24 May 2007

Oh yeah, there's a good reason

Energy workers get 80% more

As the energy sector booms in Western Canada, workers in the oil and gas sector are commanding 80% more in wages than the average Canadian employee, a gap that has widened by more than 20% in the past decade, a new study shows. Statistics Canada reported yesterday that total employment in all oil and gas industries was roughly 298,000 in 2006, a 22% increase from 1997, slightly faster than the average of 20% for the economy as a whole. In the "upstream" component of the sector, which covers oil and gas exploration, extraction and production, employment increased at three times that pace, or about 65%, from 107,000 to roughly 177,000, the study added. Three-quarters of the jobs were in Alberta, with its vast oil and gas reserves, the report said. "The impact on wages was pronounced," Statistics Canada said. While in 1997 employees in oil and gas extraction earned 58% more per hour than the average worker, by 2006 this gap had widened to 80%. It cited workers in oil and gas extraction, who earned about $30.36 an hour in 2006 compared with $16.73 for the labour market as a whole, as an example.

But while the wages might sound attractive, the Petroleum Services Association of Canada, which operates the Web site www.careersinoilandgas.com together with Human Resources Development Canada, warns the sector is not for everyone. "The oil field service sector can be a rewarding but demanding career," the association says. "Long hours and time away from home are commonplace in any of the oilfield service jobs. Above average pay, beautiful outdoor scenery and challenging work with the newest of high-tech equipment makes up for the downside, and for the right individual can provide a very rewarding career." Last year, the contribution of the oil and gas sector to Canada's gross domestic product exceeded $40-billion. Between 1997 and 2005, crude oil production rose 21%, from just under 112.7 million cubic metres, with a value of $15.9B, to 136.2 million cubic metres, with a value of $45.2B, the study said. Natural gas production increased about 8% in terms of volume, but because of higher prices, the value rose by more than 312%, it added. Canada is currently the world's eighth-largest producer of crude oil, pumping out about 2.5 million barrels a day, Statistics Canada said, adding that current world demand is about 84 million barrels, while production stands at about 86 million barrels.
(National Post 070524)

The oil company field workers and oilfield service workers should get paid 80% more than everyone else. Have you ever worked in this industry before? It is some of the dirtiest, shittiest, dangerous, physically demanding, life shortening crap a person could ever do. All of that on top of never being home and staying awake and/or travelling for hours and hours on end. Most people can only stand working in this environment for only a few years before they burn out and long to return to civilization and a 'normal' life (because remote oil production work is about as abnormal a human being can get). It might be a bit more tolerable on a Caribbean island, for instance, but Northern Alberta in the dead of winter? No thanks. Been there, done that.

You get paid lots because it is dangerous and shitty with a short career expectancy. It is expected that most get in, make their money and then get out. If someone in the East is complaining about wage disparities, they're more than welcome to come and work in the industry. For most jobs and locations, it sucks. It really sucks. End of story. That's why there's money to be made.

Oh yeah, and truthfully, those supply and demand numbers? Flip them around for the true number, and that will also explain to you partially why gas is now at $1.20/liter.

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